Last Year I Read Almost No Books.

I sit here after just over a year of silence and I wonder what I should write. I am currently sipping a lovely pomegranate green tea as I contemplate a title and direction for this post.

Last year I read almost no books. I’m not totally sure what happened, I just never seemed to find the time to read, it always seemed like too much effort. It was possibly the biggest reading slump of my life. I suppose I need hardly mention that it has been a tumultuous few years. I have been feeling off balance, guilty and not myself for quite a while, but I am now coming out the other side. I have read four books this last month, the same amount as I read during the entire of last year.

In times like this, I find it helpful to return to comforting, well know reads. I am a lover of young adult fantasy, my bookshelves are stacked with it, and I often return to these books. It feels to me like coming home.

I am now almost done with The Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix, perhaps some of my all time favourite books. Reading them has been like a warm hug. I know the characters well, I love the world in which they live and even now the books still keep me captivated. I was fortunate enough to receive the latest book (Elinor and Terciel) for Christmas, which I devoured before new year, so I cannot count it towards this year’s total.

I have set myself a goal to read 22 books this year, over on Goodreads. I would also like to get back into reviewing and writing. I got 44,000 words into my first draft of my novel last year and totally lost motivation as the end drew closer. I think its time I started doing more of what I enjoy. Watch this space, if you are interested, for new reviews this year. I might even review The Old Kingdom books, though its not hard to guess from this post what I might say about them.

Anyway, this is is a rambling way of holding myself accountable. I will write this year. I will read this year. This tiny corner of the vast and seemingly infinite internet is my witness.

5 Excellent Book Series for Children Aged 8 to 12

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I cannot deny, I am a lover of middle grade fiction. I am a lover of fiction in general, but middle grade does hold a special place in my heart, even as an adult. These are books I cannot wait to share with my son when he is old enough.

So, what were (are) my all time favourite middle grade reads? I’ve put together a list of the books I loved as a child, and the ones I think will still be loved by all today.

1. Harry Potter

Harry Potter Box Set
Harry Potter box set

This goes without saying, really. I have mentioned Harry here before and (despite not agreeing with JK Rowling’s backward thinking) they remain some of my all time favourite books. I’ve read them so many times I could probably recite them from memory. The Harry Potter series is actually the best selling series of all time, and has been translated into 80 languages.

The books tell the story of Harry and his best friends, Ron and Hermione, as they navigate a magical world of mystery and danger. They spend the series trying to thwart a great evil and face many challenges along the way. The books are full of wonder and even after all this time, I’m never bored reading them.

2. Chronicles of Ancient Darkness

The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness Box Set
Chronicles of Ancient Darkness box set

I’ll be honest, I read these books as an adult and I LOVED them. They follow a boy called Torak and his wolf, with whom he can communicate. Along the way we pick up a girl called Renn too, and we follow them on a journey though ancient northern Europe as they try to vanquish the evil that overshadows the land.

These books are rich in history and folklore. The author, Michelle Paver, extensively researches each novel by living with and talking to native tribes. She then incorporates their practices and traditions into her characters. I learnt loads from these books, even as an adult, so I think they would really capture the imagination of a child.

3. Alex Rider

Alex Rider Box Set
Alex Rider box set

These were some of my all time favourites growing up. In fact, ask 10 year old me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and she’d tell you “a spy!”. I even went as far as to learn Morse code!

Written by Anthony Horowitz these books follow Alex, a reluctant recruit of MI6 as he jets off on undercover missions to fight bad guys. There are quite a lot of books in the series, the most recent one was published earlier this year (April 2020). The first novel, Stormbreaker, was actually adapted for film in 2006 but if I’m honest, it wasn’t that great. The book is much better.

4. The CHERUB Series


These books, written by Robert Muchamore, are actually more aimed at the YA audience, but I think they would be good for kids 11 and up. They have more mature themes and can get a bit dark in places. I loved them as a kid though.

They continue with the Spy theme, and follow a boy called James and his sister Lauren as they embark on a variety of missions to bring down bad guys and stop terrorist plots. They are full of action and danger and are impossible to put down.

5. Young Bond

Young Bond Box Set
Young Bond Box Set

You may be noticing a theme here, but my inner child always wanted to be a spy! These books are in much the same vein as the two above in that they are about a reluctant kid spy. However, these tell the story of a young James Bond, fighting bad guys long before he became the infamous martini drinking spy we all know and love.

I only ever read the books written by Charlie Higson, so I cant speak for the more recent ones written by Steve Cole. I loved the Charlie Higson ones though, I have to say. Again, these books do contain more mature themes, but more often than not middle grade and young adult fiction tackles these issues in a tactful and age appropriate way.

I loved all of these series growing up, and I can’t wait to share them with my own son. If you enjoyed these series growing up, or if you can think of any more, let me know in the comments!

7 Reasons To Pick Up A Book Right Now

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Whether you are new to reading, or just in a bit of a slump, I’ve come up with a few reasons why you should pick up that next book. I’ve just come out of a reading slump myself, I was feeling a bit uninspired and not sure what to read next, so I’ve decided to compile a list of the best reasons to pick up a book in the first place.

You might learn something new

Even if, like me, you predominantly read fiction, there is always something to learn. Authors have to get their ideas from somewhere and will often research the intricate details of their plot to make the story as real as possible. A good example of this is Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver (and the rest of the books in the series). Paver travels the world, spends months studying wolves and traditional survival skills to write her books, and it shows. Despite these being aimed at a middle grade audience, I learnt an awful lot about wolf communication from them. There is always something to learn from a book.

Expand your vocabulary

There is no question that reading introduces you to new words. There have been may times in my reading that I have had to stop and look up a word I haven’t read before. Sometimes you can infer meaning from context , but I am the sort of person who likes to know for sure what something means, before I adopt it into everyday use

Reading influences your Intelligence

First things first, I am not a scientist and my evidence of this is purely anecdotal. However a quick google search takes me to this article on Bookriot which explains the link between intelligence and reading far more eloquently than I can here. In my experience though, it helps with empathy, problem solving and even memory. We use books to teach children about the world around them, so it must have some impact on brain connectivity and function. While reading may not make your IQ score higher, it certainly wont make it lower.

You can learn about other cultures

This one is particularly relevant today, as we all try to better ourselves and understand the plight of our fellow humans. I personally love to read about other cultures, sub-cultures, ethnicities, genders, orientations and identities. The world is a rich and colourful place, why limit yourself only to what you know? In reading about the people who differ to you, you can begin to understand them better. You gain a profound look at the world through someone else’s eyes when you read. It truly is a gift and only serves to expand your mind.

You can learn about yourself

While we are busy learning about other people, it might help us learn about ourselves too. Aside from all the self help books that are available, reading in general can really help you to understand why you are the way you are. When you connect with a character, its because you see a little bit of yourself in them. Relating to what motivates a character can help you understand what motivates you.

You can mind read!

As I touched on above, a book is really a look into the mind of its author. When you read, you are reading in their voice and tone. You can learn an awful lot about someone from their writing and it is a privilege to be allowed that deep into someones mind. to quote George RR Martin, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”


This is my favourite reason for picking up a book. You can escape into another universe completely different from your own. It’s so relaxing to put your life and problems on hold for a while and escape into a captivating book. You can be transported to mystical lands on the back of a dragon, or fall in love, or go to a school of magic, or save a kingdom from a tyrant, anything is possible, and all from the comfort of your sofa! If you are sick of the humdrum, then pick up a book. You’ll feel refreshed and ready for life when you emerge from behind the cover.

What makes you pick up a book? Leave a comment and let me know!

eBook vs Print, Which is Better?

I was adamant e-readers were a creation of evil for the longest time. Why on Earth would I want a computer to read off when I can have a beautiful book with its weight and aroma and magic? Where is the soul? Where is the beauty? Nothing beats the feeling of a new book in your hands waiting to be read. I’m sure we can all agree that books are wonderful. I have amassed hundreds of them over the years and my collection is always increasing.

Enter, the e-reader. It was a cold and snowy February day when I received my 16th birthday present from my parents. I think they had grown tired of tripping over the piles of books all over the house. I was presented with a Kindle. Despite my prior concerns about the soullessness of ereader, I was secretly thrilled with this gift. Thanks to the magic of the internet I now had my own portable bookshop and library! It was the perfect gift for a bookish introvert such as myself. That particular kindle lasted me about 8 years, and I was devastated when it finally expired. So much so, that my husband quickly bought me a new one to shut up my lamenting.

Reasons to love e-readers:
  • You can buy almost any book you like instantly and store it on the device for instant access anywhere in the world (as long as you have battery!)
  • You can purchase books while you are out and about if you are ever stuck for something to read. No more nicking newspapers out of bins or re-reading the back of a shampoo bottle over and over again!
  • The new ones are back lit so you can read at night with minimal disruption to your snoring partner.
  • You can ditch your book-suitcase for holiday and just slip the e-reader into your hand luggage. This was a HUGE bonus for me personally.
  • You can highlight meaningful passages and quotes without defacing the book, and save them for future reference. I am one of those people who simply CANNOT write in a book, so saving quotes on an e-reader is much easier.

I think it is clear I am a convert when it comes to e-readers, but there are some cons in my opinion too.

Cons of e-Readers:
  • As handy as they are, it just isn’t the same reading experience as a good old fashioned book. They don’t have the smell, or the weight, or dare I say it, the magic.
  • Its nearly impossible to lend out an e-book. You can’t just give it to your friend to read, or even pass it on to a charity shop to be loved again. The ability of books to become gifts and heirlooms is part of the magic I think.
  • I personally miss the tangibility of physical books on my shelf when it comes to my Kindle. I often forget what I’ve got on there because its just not as visible. I will usually end up buying a print copy in addition to the e-book if I really loved it.
  • You don’t need to charge a book.
  • You don’t get the full experience of being drawn in by the cover of a book.

On the whole, I do love my e-reader. It’s convenient and portable and I always have it with me if I am travelling or going on holiday. Its perfect at the moment for if I need a book fast, and don’t want to wait for the post or venture out into the post-apocalyptic wasteland to the bookshop. I’d recommend any avid reader invest in one.

That being said, nothing beats the beauty of settling down to lose yourself in a book. The way they smell and feel in your hands. The sound the pages make as you turn them. The thought of sharing it with the people you love once you are finished, so they can enjoy it too. The pride you feel adding it to your book shelf once you are finished, knowing you lived the life contained within, and gained a unique glimpse into the mind of another.